Let’s talk about the combo card.
Hi, I’m Jim Hacking, an immigration lawyer practicing law throughout the United States at our offices in St. Louis, Missouri; San Diego, California; and Washington, D.C.
Everyone wants to know about the combo card. I don’t know why I said it like that. I just like saying that. The combo card USCIS. It sounds sort of cool. The combo card is the card you receive in the middle of your Green Card case. If you are applying for adjustment of status and are inside the United States, hopefully, you will file these forms.
The I-130 is the petition for an alien relative. That’s the form that the U.S citizen files for the foreign national to say, “Hey, I’m married, and I want to get my spouse a Green Card.” The I-130A is the biographic information about the beneficiary, the foreign national. The I-485 is the adjustment of status application from whatever status they’re into as a lawful permanent resident.
These are the two where the combo card comes in:
So when you have that situation where there’s a file for the I-131 and the I-765, you’re going to get, eventually, a combo card. That comes after the biometrics, after the background check, and after you get the card.
Additionally, it says, Employment authorization document EAD, on top, and on the bottom it says, Also serves as I-512 advance parole. So you’ll get this combo card from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Now, in theory, that is supposed to tide you over until your Green Card interview, until you get your Green Card. But there’s been a backlog lately on work cards and combo cards. Sometimes we’ve seen situations where people get their Green Card before their employment authorization documents, combo card, or travel card.
When you get your card, that’s your permission to leave the United States, and that’s your permission to go to work. If you fill out your forms correctly, your Social Security card should follow right after that too.
But your combo card is the work and travel card. That, and your passport, will be what you need to go and come from the United States to your home country or travel abroad and come back.
The combo card, in most situations, comes about halfway through the process, after your fingerprints, but before your Green Card. But depending on your field office, you might have your Green Card interview first and never even get your combo card. You might get your combo card after your Green Card.
Usually, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) cancel out the combo card applications (the I-765 and the I-131) when you have your Green Card. But sometimes, you get it. You just don’t want to keep that and give it back to USCIS when you meet with them again.
Now, you don’t need that combo card anymore if you have your Green Card. Your Green Card serves as your ability to work in the United States and as proof of your ability to work and travel outside the United States. You won’t be too worried about that current employment authorization document and the advance parole once you get your Green Card.
The other thing I want to say quickly is that many people get upset and bent and worked up about when they will have their Green Card interview; when do I have a Green Card interview. And I get that. I understand the frustration and the sadness and all that about the delay.
But the truth of the matter is, once you get your combo card from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and you have that ability to work, you can travel outside of the United States.
Moreover, you’re in pretty much the same position you will be when you get your Green Card or register permanent residence. The combo card is nice to have, and we want to get it as quickly as possible because it will set you up for working and traveling and all that stuff.
The day you get your Green Card, your life isn’t different from the day before when you had your work card. You don’t have many more privileges. You do have some, you can start sponsoring people for immigration benefits if you want, and you’re obviously starting your clock towards citizenship.
But at the end of the day, getting an EAD and advance parole document is really powerful. It gives you that ability to work, proof of your status, and people really like to have it.
That’s everything I know about combo cards.
If you have questions about the EAD card or the advance parole, call us at 314-961-8200. Also, you can email us at [email protected].
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Thanks a lot. Have a great day.